Dye Equivalent Colours
NOTE: These rankings are my private opinion. With the advent of a new authenticity Officer, he/she may wish to change them.
|H||Indigo from murex||540||7319|
|L||Tansy||743 or 773||7727|
|L||Dyers Greenweed||712 or 773||7727 or 7680|
|L||Weld and Sorrel root||641||7676|
|M||Weld and alum and urine||711||7784|
|M||Weld and alum and alkali||711*||7784*|
|L||Weld and Iron||642 or 641 or 652||7573 or 7583|
|H||Madder over Woad||723||7767|
|M||Exhausted Madder||885 or 863||7175 or 7875|
|M||Madder and alum||D 211||7920|
|M||Madder and alkali||930||7184|
|M||Madder and Iron||720||7446*|
|M||Madder and copper||871||7446|
|M||Madder and sorrel||882||7922|
|M||Madder and iron mordant and iron modifier||400* or 920||7167 or 7199|
|M-H||Woad||D 391 or 392||7301|
|M-H||Woad||561||no good match|
|H||Woad over weld||653||7772|
|H||Woad over weld||691||7769|
|H||Madder over woad||921||7209 or 7115|
|M-H||Lichens - Xanthoria Pariatina and potash (dark dried)||923||7193|
|M-H||Xanthoria Pariatina and alkali (sun dried)||515||7301|
|M-H||Ochrolechia Tartarea (Cork Lit) and ammonia||D 211||7961|
|M||Parmelia Saxatalis. Boil dye||723 or 722||7766|
|M-H||Plastimatia Glauca. (Glaucus leafy lichen)||727||7727|
|L-M||Seaweed - Bladderwrack||452||7463|
|L-M||Lady's Bedstraw root and alkali and clubmoss||835||7951|
|L-M||Lady's Bedstraw root and clubmoss||863||7214|
My contention is that if you have time and a suitable container for dyeing in, you are probably Middle Class. BUT - wishing to divert a rebellion in Regia, I have given Low Class in Regia some colours.
- LOWER - You are a peasant, tied to your Lord's land
- MIDDLE - You are a Trader - Free Artisan - Free Landowner
- HIGH - High ranking Churchman - Bishop - Abbott - Prior Prioress. A high ranking Court Official - Eorl, Reeve etc
- CHURCH - Normal Cleric wears natural wool and linen, or cheap black/brown dye
Some thoughts on interpretation
Don't treat these as an exclusive list of precise colours – instead consider them to be an indication of the range of colours available and their relative costs.
There were probably two kinds of dyeing taking place in Britain during Regia’s period – that of the professional dyer and maybe what we have come to call hedgerow dyeing.
We have very little archaeological evidence for professional dyers in this country at this time – some pottery shards with madder deposits, discarded madder roots, dyers greenweed remains, woad seeds, clubmoss and bog myrtle remains, and dye stuff was being imported. Whether this is evidence of a true professional dyeing business is another matter, but at least some form of dyeing was happening.
Hedgerow dyeing seems to be the term used for the dyeing of small amounts of fleece or yarn, or small garments done domestically with whatever plant is handy. This would for the most part give a result which would fade easily and need re-dyeing yearly.
Nowadays, when we buy yarn to make a garment, we are asked to buy the full amount needed for the garment, as dye batches even with modern techniques cannot be guaranteed to be of similar shades. How much more true is this problem for the medieval dyer. Even with crops, such as woad and madder, grown specifically in continental Europe as dye crops this problem would still exist.
Several factors can alter the colour that a dye plant will yield – the amount of sun and rain that it receives, the latitude at which it is grown, the pH level of the soil in which it is grown, the pH level of the water used for the dyeing process, how long the dyestuff is stored and in what way and lastly the actual dyeing process used ie the mordants or combination of mordant afterbaths, ratios of dyestuffs to fleece, yarn or cloth. All of these will alter either the colour obtained or the shade of the colour obtained.
Therefore, we cannot say – from madder you always get x-colour, x-shade, or x-depth of colour. The same goes for any other dyestuff.
Professionally dyed fibre would have generally been more consistent, but given the above, even that would not have been true to any great extent. So – what we have are a range of colours that could have been produced. That is the best that we can do.